How’s this for an arresting headline, “600 Literary Magazines Are Looking for Your Work”? That one popped up in my email a few weeks back, a message from the helpful folks at Poets & Writers. Despite this slightly hucksterish lead-in to their online database of little magazines - and, really, who begrudges any editor a clever hook in this age of blooming, buzzing info overload? - P&W is a truly fine organization dedicated to the writer’s interests, whether she be a beginner or a pro.
As a magazine editor years back, I first came to respect Poets & Writers through its well-written, highly useful magazine of the same name. A nonprofit organization founded in 1970 and based in New York City, Poets & Writers publishes lots of helpful how-to advice, maintains current listings of literary magazines and small presses, runs contests, makes grants, holds readings, offers residencies, and helps writers connect with each other. It’s hard to imagine a more indisputable misson statement than P&W’s:
Poets & Writers believes in contemporary literature’s indispensable value to our national culture….the organization’s mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.
(Gosh, that sounds a little like the mission statement we’d have for 317am if we had a mission statement.)
And then there’s the fascinating world of literary magazines. Eacn entry in the database provides the basic facts: the genres published, whether the mag accepts electronic submissions and simultaneous submissions, and the dates it’s open to reading manuscripts.
But what I really enjoy is skimming through the lists in search of the oddball zine that might possibly want what I’m driven to write. Here’s one I like out of the University of Nevada, Reno, though I suspect it’s out of my range:
The LBJ: Avian Life, Literary Arts
The LBJ, published semiannually, is dedicated to creative writing and birds. Its title is drawn from the term “little brown job” or “lbj,” used by birders, at once dismissively and affectionately, when struggling to identify a sparrow-like individual in the field. The LBJ, also known as the literary bird journal, celebrates these non-nondescripts and other avians in contemporary literature. The journal publishes creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, narrative scholarship, literary journalism, and book reviews.